NEW DELHI: Immediate steps should be taken to quash the ‘counter’ FIRs filed against 25 Dalits in the aftermath of the Ponparappi violence in Ariyalur district, a preliminary fact-finding report by the Social Awareness Society for Youths (SASY) — a Dalit advocacy group based out of Tamil Nadu — has demanded. The ‘counter’ FIRs would only serve to further intimidate them.
“Despite mass atrocities being committed against Dalits, systemic violence continues through the form of counter FIRs. The content is clearly of concern as it indicates these are just counter-FIRs,” said Pandiyan, executive director, SASY. “The families continue to live in fear and should be rehabilitated.” On polling day on April 18, Dalit houses were attacked and violent clashes reported from Ponparappi in Chidambaram constituency.
As a part of monitoring atrocities against Dalits during polling, the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ), a coalition of Dalit organisations, along with other advocacy groups had deployed 75 ‘human rights defenders’ across the country to keep a vigil on areas prone to violence. In TN, it had also monitored Villupuram, Cuddalore, Erode, Tirupur, Coimbatore and Nilgiris.
“There was a need to deploy more cops as it was identified as a sensitive booth in Chidambaram constituency. Adequate police personnel would have helped evade such incidents,” said Pandiyan. According to the SASY assesment, 63 houses were damaged, 14 persons injured, 10 bikes were damaged and one bike set on fire. The team has shared its report with district authorities and the police.
Meanwhile, the NDMJ has urged the Election Commission of India to conduct a high-level inquiry into the matter for the violation of Dalit rights by the dominant caste community and conduct a repolling of the concerned booth to protect the voting rights of the scheduled caste community in the area.